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Americas

Hotel maid had 'no idea' who Strauss-Kahn was

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-17

The hotel maid accusing IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her as she went to clean his suite has been described by neighbours and her lawyer as a quiet, hard-working woman who did not even know who her alleged attacker was.

AFP - The maid who says she was sexually assaulted by one of the world's most powerful men in his Manhattan hotel room is described by neighbours and her lawyer as a humble immigrant who now fears for her future.

"The world has been turned upside down for her," lawyer Jeff Shapiro told CNN, speaking after his client was allegedly attacked on Saturday by Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the plush Sofitel Hotel in Manhattan.
             
"This is a person who is a hard-working person who is a single mother and supporting a 15-year-old young woman, and they live together, and she was grateful to have a job, for which she could provide food and shelter for the two of them," Shapiro said.
             
"Since this has occurred, she has not been able to go home. She can't go back to work, and she has no idea what the future is going to be," he said, adding: "Aside from what took place in the hotel room, the trauma that has taken place in her life is extraordinary."
             
Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund and a leading French politician tipped as a presidential front-runner for 2012, was charged in the early hours of Sunday morning with sexual assault and attempted rape.
             
He denies all charges.
             
The alleged victim is described by people who know her as a simple, hard-working mother living in the Bronx borough.
             
Working at a cafe in Harlem, the man identifying himself as the alleged victim's brother recalled his "good Muslim" sister crying inconsolably.
             
"She did not stop crying I told her, 'don't hurt yourself.' I wanted to get a lawyer for her. I've never heard her like that before. She was completely devastated."
             
The brother said the 32-year-old has one child, a daughter, and had been working three years at Sofitel, part of a swish French chain, in the glitzy Times Square district.
             
But according to the brother, his sister didn't realize at first who her alleged attacker was.
             
"She didn't know who Dominique Strauss-Kahn was at the time of the incident. I was the one who explained to her," he said.
             
Dominique Strauss-Kahn: portrait of a political heavyweight
The brother, whom AFP would not identify to protect the identity of the alleged victim, said he was confident in the US justice system. But his sister, he said, is "scared."
             
The brother's identity and his statements could not be independently verified.
             
What's sure is that already two lives have been turned upside down.
             
Instead of flying off for an appointment with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and possibly campaigning as a hotly anticipated candidate in France's presidential election, Strauss-Kahn finds himself locked up in one of New York's roughest jails.
              
And instead of continuing her previously unremarkable, anonymous life, the Sofitel maid is at the center of horrific allegations that could lead to one of the highest profile trials in years.
             
In the drab residential district of the Bronx borough where the alleged victim lives, neighbours said she was quiet and kept to herself.
             
"I know (her) since she moved here about six month (ago). She is nice, a nice girl, hard working woman and I saw her pretty much every day when she goes away to do this job and it is a nice family, her and her daughter, they live together," the building supervisor told AFP.
             
"They're not secretive in their lives. They live like normal persons and they don't know nobody. It's like, everybody has, you know, you come, you don't know nobody, you cannot trust people when you just moved in," he said.
             
One neighbour, Amanda, said "she is quiet. I never hear anything, I never even hear a TV or nothing so.... They are very quiet, they keep to themselves."

 

Date created : 2011-05-17

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